Illinois vs. Iowa
What started out as slow and sloppy play, turned into some high scoring offense. The Iowa Hawkeyes earned the right to advance in the Big Ten Tournament by defeating the Illinois Illini 96-87. The Illini hung in almost all game and answered many Hawkeye runs. However, in the end, the Illini were not able to put the finishing touches in the waning minutes of the game.
Free throw shooting was immensely important in this game, as it kept the Hawkeyes in the driver seat. They went to the line 41 times as opposed to only 12 for the Illini.
Cordell Pemsl showing some nice body control with the spin and the and 1
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 28, 2018
The 41 free throws were enough to offset the baffling 18 turnover game by the Hawkeyes. Hawkeye high point man Jordan Bohannon was hot all night, hitting 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, finishing with 25 points.
Healthy double-digit Hawkeye leads quickly turned to single digits with the Illini shooting a scorching 46.7% (14-30) from three-point territory.
The Illini leading scorer of the game Kipper Nichols (31) remained consistent throughout with timely scoring. The Hawkeyes were able to hold off the Illini with smart plays down the stretch, and good free throw shooting to close it out.
Rutgers vs. Minnesota
In the second game of the opening night doubleheader, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights took on the Minnesota Gophers. This matchup, unlike the first, proved to be much less potent from a scoring perspective.
It was all about the Corey Sanders show, as he led the Scarlet Knights to a 65-54 victory over the Gophers. He impressed with a series of dribble moves, step back jumpers and isolations that dazzled the “home” crowd.
Corey Sanders with the nasty crossover and step back! MEAN!
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) March 1, 2018
He finished the game with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Isaiah Washington led the Gophers with 18 points off the bench, but they did not receive as much help from the starting unit. As a team, they shot an abysmal 15.8% from three-point range, which proved detrimental to the team. Though the game remained somewhat close throughout, Sanders found a way to hit clutch shots in big moments to keep momentum.
Rutgers advances to play Indiana in the next round.